Cover Moooi Hortensia Armchair by Andrés Reisinger and Júlia Esqué, from Space Furniture

Ever wondered what it would be like to sit on a soft and delicate flower? Moooi’s Hortensia Armchair by Andrés Reisinger and Júlia Esqué was first designed as a 3D render; see it go from virtual to real

It was known as “the chair that could never be made”. But now Dutch design brand Moooi, together with Argentinian digital artist Andrés Reisinger and Barcelona-born textile designer Júlia Esqué, have done what was deemed impossible with the Hortensia armchair. Originally a 3D rendering, the Hortensia armchair has now come to life as an actual seat; in Singapore and Malaysia, the Moooi chair can be purchased from Space Furniture. 

Reisinger, known for his digital renderings and NFT work, had initially designed the Hortensia armchair as a digital piece of furniture that only existed in the virtual realm; he also made headlines last year with the successful sale of a series of digital furniture in an NFT online auction.

The dreamy 3D rendering of the Hortensia chair represents Reisinger’s vision of creating a chair that replicates the feeling of comfort when you receive a hug. He was specifically inspired by the voluminous Hortensia flower; he envisioned the soft and gentle petals as the perfect place to curl up after a long day.

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When the designer first introduced the virtual chair in 2018, it instantly went viral on social media platforms. Design enthusiasts were taken by the armchair’s bulbous form, alongside the seemingly cloud-like softness and the trendy millennial-pink petals. Reisinger instantly received several order requests for the chair but it didn’t physically exist at that point in time. 

The designer thus sought out a way to bring the chair to life. After being rejected by several manufacturers due to the armchair’s complexity and uniqueness, Reisinger partnered with Esqué to realise the design.

The duo worked with a small carpentry workshop based in Barcelona. Long strips of scalloped fabric were laser cut into pink polyester to produce 20,000 fabric petals. To create the fluffy texture of the chair seen in the rendering, the design team sewed the laser-cut petals with a thicker textile to form the final upholstery. This was then pulled over a sculpted foam supported by a wooden frame, and in 2019, the first — and, back then, only —physical version of the Hortensia armchair went on display at the Montoya gallery in Barcelona.

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With the launch of the limited-edition piece, both designers desired to go beyond simply bringing the chair to life: they wanted to mass-produce the design for the armchair to be readily available worldwide. 

Moooi took on the challenge; the unusual design of the Hortensia armchair aligned perfectly to the Dutch brand which is known for its irreverent and playful furniture and lighting designs. The Moooi team worked closely with the designers over the course of a year to refine the design in order to produce it for a wider audience.

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The Moooi armchair utilises the same technique as the original prototype, where lightweight polyester fabric is carefully laser cut into strips.

The new version released by Moooi has over 30,000 petals that are carefully shaped and bundled together into clusters of 40, which helps ensure that the tactile upholstery will maintain its volume. Specialist sewing machines are thereafter utilities to sew the petals onto an elastic backing textile. Moooi has also switched out the wooden frame with a more durable steel structure covered in injection-moulded foam. 

While the petal layered upholstery is the Hortensia armchair’s signature fabric, Moooi is also offering an option to configure the chair in other upholstery textiles that the brand has in its catalogue to suit your design scheme.

With its botanical influence and impeccable detail, this statement armchair certainly catches the eye while bridging the realms of 3D art and design. 

“We believe that the new version that Moooi is producing especially improves the design in terms of comfort, pushing it to its limits while making the chair accessible worldwide,” says Esqué. In an interview with Dezeen, Moooi CEO Robin Bevers notes that the chair represents new heights of design. “The Hortensia was considered impossible to produce—and yet here we are,” he explains. “I love that designers are pushing us to new levels, to achieve things we never dreamt we were capable of.”

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